Gershom Gorenberg

Gershom Gorenberg is a senior correspondent for The Prospect. He is the author of The Unmaking of Israel, of The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977 and of The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount. He blogs at South Jerusalem. Follow @GershomG.

Recent Articles

Ehud the Semi-Believer

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is trapped by his unwillingness to acknowledge that Israel must leave the occupied territories completely.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007, at the Government House in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Ehud Olmert has begun to fascinate me. Don't misunderstand: I am completely innocent of ever voting for him. I have no intent of committing such an act in the future. Had fate not put me in a country of which Olmert is prime minister at a moment that might be seized by someone else, an actual leader , to make peace, my interest in him would be purely as a literary figure, a character. I don’t mean that he is a tragic hero; precisely the point is that he lacks grandeur. He is Willy Loman with a vision: a glad-handing hack politician who was ambushed one day by a truth. Half of that truth scares him so much that every time it calls, he tells his secretary to tell it that he's in a meeting. At the Annapolis peace conference last week, Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas agreed to "make every effort to conclude an agreement" resolving all issues and resulting in full peace "before the end of 2008." Their joint statement was read out loud by George W. Bush, making a very rare...

Till Settlement Freezes Over

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to offer a halt in construction at West Bank settlements before the Annapolis conference. But will Condi hold him to his promise?

The American consulate in Jerusalem once again has a full-time official reporting on Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank. For the last few years, that task was just a part-time task for a consulate staffer. For those who enjoy poring over diplomatic hints, this one sounds positive: It means more information flowing to the State Department and could even reflect renewed concern in Condoleezza Rice's fiefdom over the forces that block Israeli-Palestinian peace. Then again, a consulate spokeswoman confirms the settlement man is a junior diplomat on his first overseas assignment. He'll have it for just one year before handing it over to another fresh young foreign service officer. If the official's rank suggests the priority given to his e-mails, they won't be the first thing Condi reads in the morning. Still, there's another, more public sign that settlement is back on the American agenda: The Ha'aretz daily reported last week that under U.S. pressure, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert...

Missing the Conversation About the Israel Lobby

Mearsheimer and Walt's The Israel Lobby lacks scholarly thoroughness -- and misses the debate among Jews over Israel.

After giving a lecture in San Francisco, I drove to a friend's house where I'd arranged to pick up a copy of The Israel Lobby during my swing through the States. Curiously, it took just a few pages of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's book to induce the disjointed feeling I usually get from reading an all-out defense of Israeli policy from precisely the right-wing Jewish groups they find so pernicious: I recognize dates, main events, sources of information, yet they are put together to create a world wildly simpler than the one in which I live -- an alternate reality neat and devoid of complexity, as if late at night I'd accidentally entered a subdevelopment's model home instead of my family's house down the street. The floor plan is the same, but the mess of being lived in is missing. Admittedly, I asked for dissonance by starting with the chapter that portrays the Israel lobby's power to crush all dissent within the U.S. Jewish community. If the description were accurate, the...

Peace and Archaeology in the Middle East

Disputes and compromises over preservation in the Holy Land have a lot to teach those trying to broker peace in the region. Perhaps Condoleezza Rice should consider those lessons in shaping U.S. policy.

The sign caught my eye: It held far more than the intended meaning. It hung on a corrugated metal fence in the antiquities park that faces the southwest corner of the Temple Mount, and it said: Archaeological Excavation Danger of Avalanche Do Not Enter You can read that as a simple description of physical peril. Last winter, when I visited the same spot, Israel Antiquities Authority laborers were carefully removing buckets of dirt from a pit just behind where the fence now stands. Others were digging into a nearby slope, with sandbags steadying the damp hillside. Soon after, the excavation was halted. A careless tourist wandering in here might bring everything tumbling down, despite work done afterward to stabilize the site. But the sign also told a much larger story. Archaeology in the Holy Land is laden with ideology and danger. Sticking a shovel in the ground near the Temple Mount, a.k.a. Haram al-Sharif, always threatens to trigger political avalanches. The real risk of collapse...

A Note to Hillary on Jerusalem Disunited

An open letter to Hillary Clinton, telling her what life is really like in Jerusalem and informing her that her stand on uniting the city isn't half the plan her husband proposed in 2001.

Dear Hillary, A colleague alerted me to your recent position paper on Israel , with your promise of support for an "undivided Jerusalem." I appreciate the warm feelings, but I admit I was confused by your description of my city. Since you are a careful, wonky candidate, I figured you must have details at your disposal. So this morning I called a Palestinian cabby friend, and together we went looking for the "undivided Jerusalem." I live in Talpiot, an area that hugs the vanished DMZ that ran through part of the city between 1948 and 1967. The next neighborhood over, East Talpiot, was built after Israel annexed East Jerusalem and a swath of land around it in 1967. East Talpiot fills much of the vanished DMZ. It was part of the massive government effort to move Israeli Jews into the new areas and to erase the armistice line between Israel and Jordan. The apartment blocks sit on wide, tree-lined streets with brick-paved sidewalks. There are municipal playgrounds, and green park benches...